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The next generation of the Apple TV set-top box may feature deep integration with major cable TV provider Time Warner Cable, according to a Bloomberg report that cites unnamed sources familiar with the company’s plans.

If true, Apple might be able to throw the cable provider a much-needed lifeline.

Despite its position as the second largest cable provider, TWC is currently going through a rough patch. TWC’s total subscribers are consistently declining, due in large part to a temporary blackout of CBS channels and consumers that prefer to get their video entertainment through streaming services. The company is also fighting for survival, as smaller competitor Charter urges TWC shareholders to agree to a merger.

However, a TWC-integrated Apple TV has the potential to restore shareholder confidence and spark interest from consumers that have long since written off TWC’s cable TV service. This would be especially important as competitors like Google Fiber and AT&T’s Uverse slowly expand into markets where TWC is dominant. Also, an Apple partnership, which would be its first with a cable provider, may improve TWC’s overall business — much in the same way AT&T saw success after partnering with Apple on the iPhone’s initial launch.

Apple is said to be working with other partners to provide additional video content, according to Bloomberg’s sources. But even if one of those other partners turns out to be another cable provider, TWC would still benefit in markets where it’s the only available option. Sources also indicate that Apple is planning to announce its next-gen Apple TV as soon as April, with it hitting retail in time for the Christmas shopping season.

As for the next version of Apple TV, the device could get quite a few upgrades, according to rumors. Some of these include a built-in Wi-Fi router, an Apple TV-specific app store, and an integrated TV tuner (aka HD antenna) to pick up local broadcast TV stations (local affiliates of CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, PBS, and such).

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